Tag Archives: Urban Hikes

Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge (Summer 2018)

Directions: Take I-205 North to exit 27. Merge onto Highway 14 east and follow it for about 12 miles. Take a right at the sign for Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge.

This is one of our favorite places to go to watch birds and get some quick exercise. We try to get out here multiple times a year and it never disappoints.

      

Get on the gravel trail next to the bathroom and follow it past an open grassy marsh area. You may see a few ducks or geese in the water, we saw a young vole along the grass here on this visit which was a first for us!

      

Next enter a small wooded area and follow the path as you pass along another marsh area to your right and come to a split in the trail. We went through the gate to the left (closed Oct-Apr) and followed the trail as it wound back around to the end of refuge and onto the bike trail. Go right here and pass the Purple Martin houses, following the bike trail for a while until you see a trail off to the right that takes you back into the refuge.

      

Next you’ll come to a bridge over Redtail lake. We saw blue-winged teals, mallards, great blue herons, and bullfrogs. After crossing the bridge follow the trail to another bridge and you’ll be back to the seasonal junction. From here you can head back out the way you came in.

      

Distance: 3 miles (easy)

Elevation: Minimal (easy)

Pet Friendly: No- dogs are not allowed in the refuge

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All- some parts of the refuge are closed Oct-Apr.

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Powell Butte (Summer 2018)

Directions: This hike starts at the Visitor Center, just off of 162nd and Powell in Southeast Portland.

From the parking area get on the paved Mountain View Trail, it’s wide and well maintained. In about a quarter mile you’ll come to a junction, go left on the Wildhorse Trail. This trail is packed dirt and can become very dusty in late summer. The Wildhorse Trail winds through tall grass and shrubs to the top of the butte.

      

Go left here on the Summit Lane Trail which is a wide thick gravel trail that’s lined with wooden fencing. The trail winds around the top of the butte and lots of seasonal birds can be seen up here as well as deer. The gravel path will head uphill and meet back up with the paved Mountainview Trail. Go left and follow it downhill and back to the parking area.

      

You get really great views of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens on a clear day and there is usually some type of flower blooming. There are numerous trails around the butte so you can add a lot of variation to your hikes. This is our favorite route for a quick evening hike.

      

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 225 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All Ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: None

Hoyt Arboretum (Spring)

Directions: The Hoyt Arboretum is located in Washington Park near the zoo. The main parking lot and visitor center is on Fairview Blvd.

We did this hike for the purpose of seeing blooming trees (plum, cherry, magnolia, etc.) so we stayed on the east side of the visitor center where there are mostly deciduous trees. You can pick up a map of all the trails at the visitor center.

We started on the Oak Trail and connected to the Wildwood Trail. In here most of the trees just had buds so we continued on the Wildwood Trail and crossed Cascade Dr. to get to the Winter Garden.

      

There were some tulips, daffodils, blooming ground cover and shrubs in this area. We also saw a good amount of trillium which was great.

      

      

Next, we crossed Cascade Drive again and got on the Magnolia Trail. There were a few cherry and plum trees just starting to bloom in this area.

      

We continued on and hooked up with the Hawthorn Trail. Everything was bare here so we decided to head back up to the visitor center. We were here the last week of March and that was probably a week or two early.

      

Distance: 2.5 miles- you can do more or less. (easy)

Elevation: 250 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: Yes

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Warrior Rock Lighthouse (Winter)

Directions: Take Highway 30 West to Sauvie Island. After crossing the bridge onto the island you should make a quick stop into the convenience store to buy a parking pass. It’s required, and you don’t want to make the 13 mile trip to the trailhead only to turn around for a permit. Continue West on Sauvie Island Road for about two miles and then take a right onto Reeder Road. Follow Reeder Road for 12 miles until you reach the trailhead.

Head through the gate and follow the treelined trail. The trail forks quite a few times, stay right every time. Going left at any fork will take you on ATV tracks and they don’t always meet up with the main trail and you will have to backtrack. You get views of the Columbia the whole way and there is access to the beach for the first half mile or so. On a clear day you will get really nice views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood.

      

The trail is really wide, evenly graded, and easy to follow. It’s mostly dirt and gravel and can get pretty muddy during the rainy months. You’ll switch from wooded areas to open fields a few times as you make your way down to the lighthouse. Everything pretty much looks the same the whole way and it can get a little boring but it’s still a nice hike.

      

Once you get close to the lighthouse you’ll see a side trail off to the right that takes you down to the beach. Head this way and take a right on the beach for the lighthouse. There are a few logs to sit on right at the lighthouse which makes for a great place to have lunch or watch the boats on the Columbia River. Head back out the way you came in.

      

On your way out stop at Collin’s Beach (park at the third entrance) and check out the old UFO boat. Collin’s Beach is clothing optional so be prepared for that. Head down to the beach and go right for about 200 feet. It’s covered in graffiti so you wont miss it!

      

Distance: 7 miles (moderate)

Elevation: Minimal (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes at the trailhead

Parking Fee: $10 Sauvie Island pass

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Ticks and nettles on the Warrior Rock trail and nudity on Collin’s Beach

Mt. Tabor (Winter)

Directions: The main parking area is located on about 60th and Salmon in Southeast Portland

This is a place that every Portlander should know about.  There are three different marked loop options, and countless more if you mix and match.  Each is marked with a different colored arrow (blue, red, and green), and they all intersect.

Because it’s a city park, all the trails are very well maintained, and transition between bark dust, gravel, packed dirt, and pavement.

  

The blue trail is the longest, and most difficult individual loop (3 miles total).  It winds up and downhill, past all 3 reservoirs, and up a flight of 95 steps.  There’s a nice variety of scenery on this trail, from wooded areas, to views of Downtown and the West Hills.

      

The green trail is 1.7 miles long and has great views of Mt. Hood on a clear day.

The red trail is the shortest option at 1 mile long and is a good option if you’re looking for a quick hike after work.

You can see all kinds of birds on Mt. Tabor, including ducks, woodpeckers, owls, and eagles.  There are a number of different playgrounds for kids and a lot of picnic areas.  There’s also an off-leash area for dogs.  There are bathrooms at the main parking area and an outhouse up at the top.

Distance: 5.7 miles- total if you do all three trails (moderate)

Elevation: 350 feet (easy)

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Salish Ponds (Winter)

Directions: Directions: Drive I-84 to the Fairview exit. Take a right at the signal and follow Fairview Parkway to Halsey Street. Take a left on Halsey and take a right onto Market Drive. Follow Market Drive to Village Street and take a right. Then take a left onto Park Lane where you will see Fairview City Park.

This trail is very easy to follow, is well maintained, and great for all ages. The whole trail is gravel and there are two ponds. You can go all the way around the main pond and part way around the smaller one.

      

This area has a decent amount of wildlife- you will see a lot of different birds (kingfishers, geese, mallards, coots, scrub jays, kinglets, etc.), nutria, and frogs.

      

There were a few people riding their bikes but it’s mainly other people walking and dogs.

      

The trail wraps around a Target store on a quiet trail and under an overpass. It continues on through a slightly marshy open area with large power poles before you reach the ponds. There isn’t anything too exciting with this trail, it’s best if you want a quick walk, have kids, or enjoy bird watching.

      

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: Minimal (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes on nice weekends

Warnings: None

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge (Autumn)

The parking area at Oaks Bottom is notorious for break-in’s and we had a problem with a man basically telling us he was going to break into our car as soon as we left, we even saw the slim jim in his backpack 🙄. We wont be parking in this main parking lot ever again, it’s too bad because this behavior may make it to where people don’t visit Oaks Bottom. We hope you still visit and we would recommend parking at Oaks Bottom Park.

Directions: From the intersection of SE 17th and Powell, head south on 17th. Cross Holgate and McLoughlin, and head into Sellwood. Turn right on SE Bybee. Bybee turns into SE 13th, follow 13th. Turn right onto Sellwood which veers into SE 7th. You’ll see the parking area for Oaks Bottom Park.

From the parking area get on the trail that heads downhill. Once at the end of this hill go right and go to a split in the trail. This hike can be done as a loop, going left here will get you on the Springwater Trail first, going right has you entering the refuge first. Either way you choose loops around and ends back at this junction. Fair warning…on the weekend there is a large train that runs right along the Springwater Trail and it is VERY loud. Because we were here during the time the train runs we decided to make this an out-and-back hike. We went right at the junction and entered into the refuge. You’ll immediately be following along a marshy area where there are a lot of water birds. We saw mallards, pintails, coots, and geese.

      

The trail switches from packed dirt and rocks to boardwalk as you follow along. There is a viewing platform out to the marsh and Oaks Park, we saw a few great blue herons and an eagle here. As we continued hiking we saw a brown creeper, bushtits, crows, scrub jays, a hummingbird, and golden-crowned sparrows.

      

The trail is very easy to follow and you will pass by the Portland Memorial Mausoleum, it has large paintings on it. Eventually you’ll come to a junction, you can turn around here or continue left and visit the tadpole pond.

      

This is a great hike for wildlife viewing and would be great for kids as well. The trail is very easy and there is a lot to look at along the way.

Distance: 2.5 miles (easy)

Elevation: 150 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: None

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: Break-ins at the main parking area.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge (Autumn)

Directions: Take I-5 north to exit 14. Go left at the intersection after getting off the freeway. Follow the road for about 3 miles through downtown Ridgefield. Go right at an intersection with Main St and drive for about a mile until you see a sign for the Carty Unit of the Refuge. Follow the gravel road to the parking area.

      

Take the path that follows the bridge over the train tracks and curves down into the refuge. Following the path as it passes a plank house you can take a left a follow the trail that takes you by Duck Lake and winds back in to where you’ll come to a seasonal closure.

      

      

Back at the plank house stay straight/right and follow the trail until you see a side trail with a hiker marker on your right. Take this path through the trees and eventually come to Boot Lake. You can’t walk around the lake so keep following the main trail as you gain a bit of elevation and get a look down into the marshy wetland area. Loop back around and down where you will be back on the main trail that takes you back past the plank house to your car.

      

      

We saw many geese, trumpeter swans, robins, flickers, hawks, and scrub jays.

      

Since you’ve already paid the refuge entrance fee you should drive out of the Carty Unit and head for the ‘S’ Unit section of the Refuge. This is an auto tour from Oct- Apr and we really enjoyed it. We were able to see great blue herons, nutria, deer, hawks, a kestrel, and many small birds.

Make sure to pick up a brochure at the pay station/trailhead at the Carty Unit. It has maps of the whole refuge and lots of great information.

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 80 feet (easy)

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in the refuge.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: $3 per car

Seasons: All

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge (Autumn)

Directions: Take I-205 North to exit 27. Merge onto Highway 14 east and follow it for about 12 miles. Take a right at the sign for Steigerwald National Wildlife Refuge.

From the parking area pass the bathroom (there is a whiteboard on the side that has a list of wildlife people have seen recently, it’s worth a look) and get on the trail. You’ll pass a few interpretive signs and soon be following along next to a large open grassy/marshy area.

      

After passing by a couple branches of Steigerwald Lake you will enter a small wooded area. Here we saw a Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, and Brown Creeper.

      

      

Keep following the trail and you’ll come to a split in the trail, part of the refuge is closed October through April to protect winter birds. Go right and cross the bridge, in here we saw a Bald Eagle. Follow the trail to another bridge over Redtail Lake. We saw Northern Shovelers and Coots in the lake as well as a sleeping Nutria in the grass. You can continue on from here where the trail ends at the dike trail.

      

Head back the way you came in.

Distance: 2.25 miles (easy)

Elevation: None

Pet Friendly: No. Dogs are not allowed in the refuge.

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All. Part of the trail is closed Oct-Apr

Popular: Yes

Warnings: None

Powell Butte (Summer)

Directions: This hike starts at the Visitor Center, just off of 162nd and Powell in Southeast Portland.

From the parking area at the Visitor Center (just past the piano that’s free for the public to play!) get on the paved Mountain View Trail. You’ll follow this a short distance until you come to a gravel section in the trail, go right here and get onto Pipeline Lane. You’ll backtrack a bit and get a nice view of Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens as you follow the thick gravel trail towards the north.

      

The trail gradually heads uphill and skirts along the tree line. Off to your left you can see the gated entrance to the underground reservoir. Soon you’ll come to an intersection in the trail, go right and get onto Holgate Lane where you enter the woods. Follow this dirt and rock trail through the woods at a fairly level grade. There is a giant metal pipe that lines most of this trail and does have leaky spots so year round there are muddy sections of the trail. Soon you’ll reach the Elderberry Stairs on your left, head up these somewhat steep steps that wind up the side of the hill.

      

Continue following the trail until you come to another junction. Go left here and get back on Pipeline Lane, you’ll follow this trail back out the way you came in with a view of Mt. Hood almost the whole way back.

      

Powell Butte is great for an after work hike or quick weekend outing. It does stay pretty busy year round no matter if it’s a weekday or weekend.

Make sure to pack your binoculars if you’re into wildlife viewing. There are lots of different birds, butterflies,and even deer.

 

Distance: 2 miles (easy)

Elevation: 180 (easy)

Pet Friendly: Yes

Good For: All ages

Bathrooms: Yes

Parking Fee: None

Seasons: All

Popular: Very

Warnings: There are nettles along the trail in the woodsy areas.